Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay was recently interviewed for dallascowboys.com, and shared a little insight on the Cowboys draft day process.
Similar to coach-speak, it's best to always take these things with a grain of salt as there is no competitive advantage to giving away your full strategy, but McClay did provide a few pieces of interesting information.
The Cowboys made history when they invested their first six picks on the defensive side of the ball, and while the emphasis on D wasn't a surprise, it wasn't a set plan for the team entering the draft.
“It just fell that fortuitously. I mean, what we do is we put up our draft board with offensive and defensive players and we give them their value. And then when it comes down to it, we make the choice based on what's best for our roster,” McClay said. “ As we went down our board there were offensive and defensive players and they were close enough in value, so we went with the defensive player.”
While this isn't a groundbreaking statement by any means, it's positive to see that the Cowboys draft process was still mostly based on what they viewed as the best player available instead of reaching for a position of need.
This strategy was tested as early as round one after getting sniped for the top cornerbacks in the draft. Instead of panicking and reaching at 10, they picked up an extra 3rd to move back a few spots and still got their guy in Micah Parsons.
“When you have a linebacker that can impact the run in between the A-gaps and B-gaps, and then they can chase and run, play sideline-to-sideline, but then also pressure. I think that adds value to the player,” McClay said of Parsons.” The way that the game is played now you need pressure and you need guys to be able to play in space. So, you know, he checked all the boxes.”
This is a draft that will definitely be looked back on as one of the strangest in history due to the nature of Covid wrecking the traditional scouting process (and college football season), but some of the changes teams were forced to make may stick around in the future.
“I think the Zoom calls are beneficial when you want to get in front of people and see them. The Zoom process helped us get in front of and talk to more guys. I think that was helpful,” McClay said when asked how this offseason would alter their future process. “I want things to go back to normal. I want to be able to go to schools and get that information, but I'm really proud of our scouts and the way that we dug to find information.”